After millions of dollars in capital investments and infrastructure improvements, Maples Collegiate is just one year away from opening the doors to its new modern and sustainable facility.
The building on the corner of Jefferson Ave. and Adsum Dr. has been through the works these past three years with renovation after renovation culminating in the addition of the Judy Silver Student Commons: a seven-million-dollar student hub that vice-principal Fortunato Lim says will set Maples Collegiate apart from most schools in the city.
“In terms of architecture there is nothing like this at high schools in the city,” says Lim. “For kids to know that they are going to a school like that — it will certainly give students a boost.”
Currently Maples Collegiate has two buildings, Maples and Ken Seaford, joined by what is called ‘the link’. The 20,000-square-foot addition will join the buildings at the front of the property with a large atrium style cafeteria and seating area, small stage, and upper balcony.
Connecting the two buildings will alleviate the issue of hallway congestion in the link. The one small hallway is a major bottle-neck during break times as the nearly 17 hundred students at Maples Collegiate file through from one building to the next.
More and more students at Maples Collegiate
Lim says that the addition is needed to accommodate the growth of the school’s population. On average Seven Oaks School Division has 111 square feet per pupil while the provincial average is at 163 square feet. Maples has seen an increase in the student population since 2009 when enrollment was 1,371 students. This year Maples Collegiate has a student population of 1,697: an increase of 23 per cent over five years.
That large student population also presents issues as construction continues in front of the building. “The biggest challenge is dealing with all the students and site safety,” says Nick Bockstael, the project manager from Bockstael Construction. “We’ve been working with the school to direct traffic away [from the site] and we’ve implemented some controls with fencing and flag people.”
Traffic is the number one safety concern as large dump trucks move in and out through the bus loop to drop off building materials, and most of the deliveries come during high traffic periods: morning, lunch, and dismissal. However Bockstael says that once the trucks are within the eight-foot-fence that surrounds the build site, students are out of harm’s way.
The existing building, which was built in 1980, is not easy to work around either. “It’s a bit of a tricky renovation where we are tying into the old building,” says Bockstael. “One of the major challenges is that the old building isn’t exactly square, so we had to pull the new building away to allow the new building to be square.”
Bockstael says excavation is almost complete and the construction crew has started forming the concrete works, pile caps, and grade beams. The work will continue through the winter and the crew will be working on the concrete for the next couple months. The commons will be complete in fall of 2014.
Maples gets geothermal heating
In 2011, the 400 meter track at Maples Collegiate was resurfaced with fresh asphalt and green sod, but this summer a portion of the track was excavated and the sod removed.
Although inconvenient for the summer runners who had to maneuver around the wet mud and construction fences, the excavation was needed to install the new geothermal heating and cooling system that will be operating by the end of the month.
“It seems odd, but before this project was conceived they didn’t think they were going to use geothermal heating,” says vice-principal Lim. He says geothermal heating was suggested during the planning for the new commons and the school division decided the entirety of Maples Collegiate would be outfitted with geothermal heating. “We are going to use less energy in the long run, which is what we want as a school.”
Today Maples Collegiate doesn’t have an operating air conditioning or heating system though the school does have regular air flow.
For more photos click on this link to gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/102979464@N02/sets/72157635813221765/